UK-based James Barnor is Ghana’s father of photography

by Rachel Ogbu//

As part of the festivities marking Ghana at 60, ‘the James Barnor Homecoming Exhibition’ has been showing since the 6th March 2017 at the Mövenpick Emporium in Ghana. James Barnor, 88, pioneering Ghanaian photographer based in London, UK, since the 1990s displays his works that represent the life of Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah and social life in Ghana and London in the 1950s and 60s.

Barnor who was Nkrumah’s official photographer was known as Ghana’s first new journalist. He has documented everything from Ghana moving toward Independence, to London changing into a multicultural metropolis. “I was lucky to be alive when things were happening…when Ghana was going to be independent and Ghana became independent, and when I came to England the Beatles were around. Things were happening in the 60s, so I call myself Lucky Jim,” he once said.

His work has been exhibited at Black Cultural Archives, at the exhibition of his photographs, Ever Young: James Barnor at Rivington Place, London and more exhibitions in the Ghana, France, The Netherlands, United States and South Africa. In 2011, his photographs became part of the new Archive and Research Centre for Culturally Diverse Photography. “My studio was at a spot where everything happened in Accra…where young and old people met from various backgrounds…free to talk about everything and anything,” he says.

You can also find Barnor’s works represented in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate and Government Art Collection in Britain. He received a GUBA (Ghana UK-Based Achievement) special “Lifetime Achievement” award in 2011 and awarded the Order of the Volta, conferred by President John Dramani Mahama at the National Honours and Awards Ceremony held at Accra International Conference Centre in 2016.

Barnor is retired and lives in Brentford, London.

James Barnor


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